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Jon Mueller - Death Blues

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Artist: Jon Mueller

Album: Death Blues

Label: Taiga

Review date: Jan. 10, 2013

Jon Mueller - "Death Blues" Trailer

The dots on the cover of Jon Meuller’s Death Blues stand separate, as if they were a puzzle waiting to be solved. For Meuller, the dots are you and I, and connection is possible through ideas, emotions and physical feeling, using music to addresses the personal experience.

The pulsing thrash at the heart of this recognition is Death Blues itself, a writhing album infused with a tumultuous life force and a call to action regarding the exaltedness and immediacy of acting on one’s life. Meuller has written a manifesto to accompany his progressive march, and the cry is one of carpe diem. His manifesto uses aphorisms such as “Live Intensely,” “Consider the importance of your life” and “If someone goes out of their way to bum you out, they’re dying.” In a demonstration of intent and willingness to live his advice, the album launch was a 100-only-at-a-time affair that included a walk through a maze, silent interpretive dance, and subversive slices of confections that might explode with the sweet, sour or spicy irrespective of what the treat looked like on the outside.

The intention is complete sensory immersion, a kind of path of excess leading to the tower of wisdom. Musically, Mueller uses pulsing drums clobbered acoustic guitar and crashing percussion to call forth a chant of awareness, propelling — chest forward — into a life that will throw at us what it will. The six tracks begin with “Find Yourself,” a haunting introduction, spliced with silences, meditative spaces, soulful plucked strings implying preparation and awareness. They are a call to immerse in the self without the guru-ized cannon of tepid spiritual vagueness. A haunted chant rings out while the strummed strings linger on their notes, building or rather swelling to a haunting crescendo of charge that will end with a sudden exit. “Impatience” begins the incantation that will infuse the rest of the album. It’s as if you reach into yourself with “Find Yourself” and then burst in a rush of creative instinct to powerhouse through the rest of the album.

For Mueller, context gains value through immersion. There is always more to be gained by increasing awareness of all the contributing factors to sound and art by implementing the idea that everything is information and everything is communicating. Floating throughout the relentless forward march of his life-music is a canticle of sensuous voice that comes to the fore by the fourth track, “Acceptance,” an anthem of cymbals and haunting chants of passion for all that surrounds us. Given his years of experience, and the nature of his message, the temptation to preach must have risen at some point, but the album never feels accusatory, guiding or prescribed. Mueller stands beside us, around us and over us with his thrilling sound daring us to step out, offering nothing but the adventure of the unknown as it stands, teasing and taunting through his musical tendrils connecting us as dots united in liberated perspective.

By Lisa Thatcher

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